Plasma gasification commercialization

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Plasma gasification is in commercial use as a Waste-to-Energy system that converts municipal solid waste (MSW), tires, hazardous waste, and sewage sludge into synthesis gas (syngas) containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be used to generate power. Municipal-scale waste disposal plasma arc facilities have been in operation in Japan since 2002 and has since spread throughout Europe and North America. Such facilities are favored for their ability to produce emissions far below the most stringent regulatory requirements in North America, but it has yet to prove its overall cost-effectiveness at such a young stage.[citation needed]

Existing facilities[edit]

National Cheng Kung University - Tainan City, Taiwan (PEAT International)[edit]

PEAT International constructed a plasma arc waste disposal facility at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan City, Taiwan, which uses its proprietary Plasma Thermal Destruction Recovery method. The facility is able to handle 3–5 metric tons (3.3–5.5 short tons) of waste per day from a variety of waste streams, including incinerator fly ash, medical waste, organic industrial process waste and inorganic sludges. It can also process waste consumer batteries and other materials, including heavy metal sludges, and refinery catalysts (waste streams that would generate valuable metal alloys). The facility was constructed as part of a comprehensive resource recovery facility funded by the Taiwanese government, marking the first time the Government of Taiwan committed financial and technical resources to the utilization of plasma technology. It was commissioned in November 2004 and received its operating permit in January, 2005. PEAT has been an active participant in the operations and maintenance of the facility on behalf of NCKU for its research purposes.[1]

Yoshii, Utashinai, and Mihama-Mikata, Japan (Hitachi Metals Ltd.)[edit]

Three similar small plants are in operation in Japan — a 166-short-ton (151,000 kg) per day "pilot" plant in Yoshii, co-developed by Hitachi Metals Ltd. and Westinghouse Plasma, which was certified after a demonstration period in 1999–2000; a 165-short-ton (150,000 kg) per day plant in Utashinai City, completed in 2002; and a 28-short-ton (25,000 kg) per day plant commissioned by the twin cities of Mihama and Mikata in 2002.[2]

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Plasco Energy Group Inc.)[edit]

A new and different type of plasma arc waste conversion that uses plasma to refine gases produced during waste conversion. Plasco Energy Group completed a plasma-arc waste demonstration plant in Ottawa, Canada at the Trail Road Landfill, to process 85 metric tons (94 short tons) per day of municipal solid waste.[3] Plasco Energy Group's process does not use plasma to destroy waste, but rather to refine gases produced during waste conversion, in order to allow them to be used to run an internal combustion gas engine. On 24 October 2007, the Plasco Trail Road facility began delivering power to the grid.

The Plasco conversion system, which uses plasma to refine gases rather than expose them to extremely high temperatures, and whose liner is composed of refractory brick rather than metal, is not susceptible to premature attack of vessel liners. By converting waste to CO
and water, rather than to methane, the greenhouse gas emissions of the process might be much less than competing technologies such as landfills.

In an update to local area residents on 6 December 2008, Plasco president Rod Bryden said delays at its facility were caused by malfunctioning machinery, not problems with the waste-to-energy technology.[4]

In December 2012, Plasco concluded a contract with the city of Ottawa for the construction of a three train commercial plant. The plant will process up to 405 tonnes/day of municipal solid waste, producing 0.9 MW-hrs of net electrical power, 300 liters of water suitable for irrigation, and 150 kg of non-leachable aggregate for each tonne of waste processed.

On 28 August 2013, an article in the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Ottawa City Council had voted for the second time to extend a deadline by which Plasco is required to have arranged the $200 million required to construct the commercial scale plasma gasification facility near the Trail Road landfill. The company now has until December 2014 to arrange financing.[5]

Swindon, Wiltshire, England, UK, (Advanced Plasma Power)[edit]

The heart of this technology, the Gasplasma process, forms the basis of APP’s Swindon Plant, the first Gasplasma facility in the world. Gasplasma is the sequential use of gasification, plasma gas treatment, syngas polishing and gas engine power generation.

A full scale plant will treat 100,000 short tons (91,000 t) per annum of municipal waste and produce:

  • Enough power for 10,000 homes
  • Enough heat for around 700 homes
  • over 99% landfill diversion of feedstock with minimal residues and emissions
  • Increase recycling rates by over 20%
  • High performance, high-value aggregate glass (trademark Plasmarok)
  • Novel combination of three existing and proven technologies (termed Gasplasma)
  • Negative carbon footprint and lowest environmental impact plant and building

A full scale plant will be 150 metres (490 ft) long, 50 metres (160 ft) wide, and along most of its length only 11 metres (36 ft) high. Above the thermal plant, the roof height is about 14 metres (46 ft), and the single exhaust for the engines 10 metres (33 ft) higher, at only 34 metres (112 ft). The building is approximately the size of a supermarket store and operates under a light vacuum, meaning it contains all odors. The entire process occurs within the building.

Vero Beach, Florida, USA (INEOS Bio)[edit]

INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy Florida are partnering to build a plant which will make about 8 million gallon of ethanol and 6 megawatts of electricity per year from the plasma arc waste disposal facility. The plant will use vegetative, yard, and municipal solid waste. More information on this project can be found at The project is targeted for completion and start-up in mid-2012. Utilizing a unique combination of gasification and fermentation processes, the facility will produce a synthesis gas that is cooled and cleaned before being fed to naturally occurring bacteria. These patented bacteria convert the synthesis gas into ethanol, which is purified for use as fuel in the transportation This facility does not use a plasma gasifer market.[6]

The facility came back online in September 2014 after undergoing major upgrades. The plant has produced "little to no" ethanol since opening.[7]

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Supercarrier – US Navy (PyroGenesis Canada Inc.)[edit]

In 2008, Northrop Grumman Newport News (now known as Huntington Ingalls - Newport News Shipbuilding), issued a contract to PyroGenesis Canada Inc. for the supply of a Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System (PAWDS) to be installed on board the Navy’s next generation aircraft carrier. This compact system will treat all combustible solid waste generated on board the ship. After having completed factory acceptance testing in Montreal, the system is scheduled to be installed on board the new ship in late 2011. Designs of PAWDS for commercial cruise lines also include the possibility of energy recovery and sludge oil processing.[8]

Pune, Maharashtra, India (Maharashtra Enviro Power Limited)[edit]

SMS Infrastructures Limited (SMSIL), Central India’s largest civil engineering and infrastructure development company, constructed 68 tonne-per-day hazardous waste-to-energy plants, located in Pune, India, that use Westinghouse Plasma Corporation’s (WPC) plasma technology and reactor vessel design. Each plant provides comprehensive disposal services for a wide variety of hazardous waste, and produces up to 1.6 MW (net) of electricity

  • The facilities are the largest plasma gasification WTE plants in the world processing hazardous waste.

Wuhan, China (Wuhan Kaidi/Alter NRG)[edit]

In January 2013, Alter NRG announced that Wuhan Kaidi had successfully commissioned a Westinghouse plasma gasification unit at a demonstration facility located in Wuhan, China. The plasma gasification unit was designed to process approximately 100 tons per day of biomass waste and convert it to clean syngas. The clean syngas is then to be converted into diesel fuel and other transportation fuels at the Kaidi facility. The demonstration facility is the first instance of a broader business plan being implemented by Kaidi to convert waste biomass in central China into clean, renewable energy utilizing the Westinghouse Plasma technology.[9]

Planned facilities[edit]

Energy Park Peterborough, England, UK (Tetronics)[edit]

Energy Park Peterborough - the UK’s First Green Energy Park, which is being managed by Peterborough Renewable Energy was granted consent by the Government Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in November 2009. It will take in mixed waste and – through a combination of recycling, gasification and plasma-enhanced waste recovery – recycle and remanufacture it, producing reusable products and renewable energy in the process. Energy Park Peterborough alone will save 600,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, create over 100 green collar jobs in the local community and produce enough renewable energy to power 60,000 homes. Tetronics will Supply Plasma Hazardous Waste Treatment Technology. The technology will turn the Air Pollution Control (APC) residue generated from the Biomass Power Plant into bricks and tiles for the building industry, thereby; ensuring close to zero residues to be landfilled. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2012.[10]

Tees Valley Renewable Energy Center (Air Products/AlterNRG)[edit]

A 49MW power plant using plasma gasification is under construction at Teesside in the UK.[11] Fully permitted, work on the site began in 2013.[12]

East Luther / Grand Valley, Ontario, Canada (Navitus Plasma Inc)[edit]

Navitus Plasma Inc. have proposed the installation of a system named "DEEP" "Dufferin Eco Energy Park" within East Luther Grand Valley located in the County of Dufferin (approximately 45 minutes north of Toronto) and plan to take all municipal garbage for the county to this facility. Residents have provided mixed support and the government has recently reduced the amount it was willing to pay for electricity from 12 cents per kilowatt hour to 8 cents. Construction is currently awaiting various environmental assessments, and government approvals but plans to be in operation by 2015.[13]

Hirwaun, Wales, UK (EnviroParks Limited)[edit]

EnviroParks Limited[14] plan (31/9/07) a consortium to build an Organic Park in Tower Colliery at Hirwaun, South Wales. This includes a plasma gasification plant combined with advanced anaerobic digestion to divert municipal solid waste from the landfill. Enviroparks are currently collaborating with partner Europlasma of Bordeaux to provide the plasma gasification unit to the park.

As much as £60 million is being put into the project by EnviroParks Ltd and its partners, to establish organic waste and mixed waste treatment facilities next to the Tower Colliery at Hirwaun. The Hirwaun site itself is large enough for the processing of over 250,000 metric tons (280,000 short tons) of non-hazardous waste a year. Initially, though, an anaerobic digestion plant will be designed to handle 50,000 metric tons (55,000 short tons) of organic wastes a year. According to the web site, as of early 2013 "...we hope to be receiving waste on the 20 acre site by 2014."

‘Re-invent the Toilet’[edit]

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing in research at Delft University to design a self-contained toilet that uses microwaves to create plasma and gasify human waste. The toilet is intended for use in India [15]and other parts of the world where a reliable source of water is not available.[16][17]

Mothballed Projects[edit]

Hurlburt Field, Florida, USA (PyroGenesis Canada Inc.)[edit]

On April 26, 2011, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the official opening of its Transportable Plasma Waste to Energy System (TPWES) facility, located at Hurlburt Field, near Fort Walton Beach Florida, USA. The facility was designed, constructed and commissioned by Montreal-based PyroGenesis Canada Inc., and the unit deployed at the facility is based on the company’s Plasma Resource Recovery System (PRRS) technology. The plant is designed to process 10.5 metric tons per day of municipal solid waste, as well as hazardous and biomedical waste. The syngas generated by the process is fed to an internal combustion engine to produce electricity, while the inorganic fraction of the waste feed is converted into an inert, vitrified slag which can be used for building materials. The system is designed to be energy neutral and transportable to allow the Air Force the flexibility to potentially deploy it other bases around the world, including forward operating bases.[18]

The plant, which cost cost $7.4 million to construct,[19] was closed and sold at a government liquidation auction in May 2013.[20][21] The opening bid was $25. The winning bid is sealed.

St. Lucie County, Florida, USA (GeoPlasma)[edit]

The first plasma-based waste disposal system in the USA was announced in 2006 in St. Lucie County, Florida. The county stated that it hopes to not only avoid further landfill, but completely empty its existing landfill — 4,300,000 short tons (3,900,000 t) of waste collected since 1978 — within 18 years.[22] The plant was originally scheduled to come into operation in 2009, but experienced several setbacks. Backers originally announced that the facility would produce 600 short tons (540,000 kg) of solid rubble from around 3,000 short tons (2,700,000 kg) of waste per day at 5,500 °C (9,900 °F), but uncertainties arose regarding the safety of such a facility. The public health and environmental threats from incinerators coupled with the uncertainty of the community's ability to produce such large quantities of waste on a consistent basis have led GeoPlasma to submit a new proposal for a much smaller facility that would convert 200 short tons (180 t) of waste per day. Plans were to begin building the $120 million facility in 2011.[23] In April 2012, St. Lucie officials announced that they had terminated the contract with GeoPlasma thereby ending the project.[24]

Tallahassee, Florida, USA (Green Power Systems)[edit]

The city of Tallahassee, Florida has signed the largest plasma arc waste to energy contract (35 MW) to date with Green Power Systems to process 1,000 short tons (910 t) daily from the city and several surrounding counties. Completion of the project was scheduled for October 2010, but canceled in 2008.[25]

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Plasco Energy Group Inc.)[edit]

A proposed Plasma arc gasifier has been planned for the Metro Vancouver area. However residents of the area have protested. Metro Vancouver is currently conducting an RFP process to determine a long-term solution for waste management. Plasco is not proposing that Metro Vancouver discontinue the RFP process, but rather to establish an interim solution that can quickly address the shortfall in landfill capacity, while also providing a facility that will allow Metro Vancouver to closely scrutinize and evaluate this new technology as part of its long-term decision making process. In 2008, the EPC Task Force recommended against the project.[26]

Port Hope, Ontario, Canada (Sunbay Energy Corporation)[edit]

Utilizing technology licensed from Europlasma, the plasma arc facility proposed for lands in the vicinity of Wesleyville in Port Hope, Ontario (approximately 45 minutes east of Toronto) will handle 400 short tons (360 t) per day of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Tire Derived Fuel (TDF). Sunbay Energy is currently obtaining the required approvals from Provincial authorities and intends to have the facility operational during the 4th Quarter of 2009. This project appears to have subsequently chosen an approach other than plasma gasification.[27]

Jackson, Georgia, USA (PR Power Company)[edit]

PR Power Co. plans to open a plant south of Atlanta, near Jackson, Georgia, that will use a "plasma torch" to vaporize tires down to their natural elements — mainly hydrocarbons and scrap steel. The gases will be converted to electricity for sale to electric utilities and the scrap steel will be sold at an estimated $50 a ton.[28]

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada (Plasco Energy Group Inc.)[edit]

Plasco was preparing to start construction on a commercial-scale facility in Red Deer, Alberta in the Summer of 2009.[29] This facility, which was to be the company's first commercial plant, was expected to be completed by the end of 2010,[30] however in February 2012 it was announced that because the city would only give the plant 10% of its garbage Plasco pulled out of the project, effectively killing it. Red Deer MP and supporter of the Plasco project, Bob Mills (Conservative Party of Canada), criticized the city saying "and so, the project died due to a lack of garbage."[31]

Beijing, China (Plasco Energy Group Inc.)[edit]

Plasco announced in April 2010 that it is planning a joint venture with Beijing Environmental Sanitation Engineering Group Co. to construct a 200 tonne per day demonstration facility in Beijing. If successful, it is intended to construct a larger 1,000 tonne per day facility to help dispose of the city's 18,000 tonnes of municipal waste generated per day.[32]

Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain (Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas)[edit]

The regional government of Madrid, Spain, announced in 2008 the installation of a plasma-based waste disposal system in the city of Alcalá de Henares. The plan would have treated 220,000 tons of waste per year.[33] The public health and environmental threats from incinerators, coupled with the fact that the place was environmentally protected led to the revision of the whole project, changing the emplacement and choosing an approach different than plasma gasification [34]


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  2. ^ Williams, R.B.; Jenkins, B.M.; Nguyen, D. (December 2003), Solid Waste Conversion: A review and database of current and emerging technologies (PDF), University of California, Davis, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, p. 23, archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-04-15 
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  4. ^ Czekaj, Laura (2008-12-07), "Mechanical problems plague Plasco", Ottawa Sun 
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  32. ^ "Plasco announces agreement with Beijing" (Press release). Plasco Energy Group Inc. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  33. ^ "Alcalá instala una incineradora en una zona con protección ambiental". Diario El País. 8 August 2008. 
  34. ^ "La Comunidad de Madrid instalará una incineradora en Loeches". 

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